Traveling not only is a way to escape from the mundanity of work and home life, but also to learn about a new culture. Going just about anywhere outside of your home (especially abroad), and you’re exposed to a new way of living via landmarks, museums, architecture, language, and the people. That’s what makes it such an insightful and thrilling experience!
However, a notable experience I’ve found that often gets overlooked is the food. Specifically, what the place offers in terms of traditional (and non-traditional) restaurants, cafes, bars, etc. At least for me, eating isn’t just a way to survive, but also a passion, a complete sensory experience which, at the end of it, assimilates me just a bit more into the city or country I’m in. Yup, I’m a complete foodie. 🙂
That said, I believe that Paris is a great place for food lovers. After countless of visits to the French capital in the past eight years, I’ve tried so many of the thousands of eateries in town. I’ve filled my stomach with flaky viennoiseries, spicy Sichuan noodles, and copious glasses of wine. Paris isn’t just a place for French food; it’s also a place for some of the most-innovative restaurants out there, and it’s no wonder that it has many notable Michelin-starred joints in the world.
I’d like to share some of my favorite food places in Paris. Granted, it has been a couple of years since I last visited the city (thanks, COVID), so I can’t say if these places are still around (although I did cross-check with Yelp prior to writing this). These are the places that I’ve frequented and are worth the money, so I hope these help as recommendations for your next visit over. For me, I’m definitely returning to these spots on my next visit over. C’est parti!
**TL;DR As I was writing this, I realized the post was getting too long, as I have way too many favorite places! That said, I’ll only focus on the restaurants and bars in this post, and I’ll save my favorite boulangeries and dessert places for another. Look out for Part 2 later on!**
My Favorite Places to Eat and Drink in Paris
Favorite… French Restaurant
Okay, so I don’t have one favorite, traditionally-French restaurant in mind. In that case, I’m going with my top three:
1. Le Comptoir de la Gastronomie (Châtelet/Les Halles, 1er arr.)— Hands down, my favorite in all of Paris. I’ve been going here since my college study abroad days, and it continues to have a dear place in my heart. Le Comptoir specializes in foie gras, so you’ll have dishes like seared foie gras and, my personal favorite, foie gras ravioli in truffle sauce. The escargots and wine are also top-tier, service is friendly, and you’re right in the heart of the city. Absolutely perfect gem of a place. ❤
2. La Cave Gourmande (Montmartre, 18ème arr.)– As the name implies, La Cave Gourmande is a small tavern, tucked away just a few blocks from the Sacré Coeur. It’s a great place to go for lunch when you’re coming to and from the landmark. I’ve had great service whenever I’ve dined here, and it serves a no-frills, rustic French cuisine. Le boeuf bourguignon is a must, and the soupe à l’oignon is decadent. Although cliché, I’ll also say their cuisses de grenouille (frog legs) are tasty, and I would also recommend their bone marrow to indulge in.
3. Bouillon Chartier (Faubourg-Montmartre, 9ème arr.)— This is the most-touristy of the bunch highlighted here, but I still believe it’s worth it. Not only does it serve your classic, French dishes, but it’s also affordable. For three courses, it’s only 20€ (as of 2018)! At least pre-pandemic, guests are seated communal-style with other strangers, which forces you to interact with others while you eat. The interior is gorgeous, too, and for that budget-friendly French food experience, le Bouillon Chartier is the place to be. Go early!
Favorite… Non-French Restaurant
France is home to a melting pot of cultures, and Paris is no exception. If you ever get tired of traditional French cuisine, there are tons of restaurants that’ll cater to your taste buds. Here are my personal favorites:
1. Trois Fois Plus de Piment (Beaubourg, 3ème arr.)— For the longest time, I struggled to find a solid Chinese joint in France. After all, living in small to mid-sized cities didn’t help with the options…what a joy it was, then, to discover Trois Fois, as it offers superb Sichuan food that’s sure to leave you addicted for more. This is the place for spicy food lovers: it goes up to five levels of heat (level 3 is my limit), and its savory, tongue-numbing aftereffects are pure, thrilling pleasure. I always get their dan-dan noodles, and I suggest arriving early to get a spot inside their small restaurant!
2. L’As du Fallafel (Marais, 4ème arr.)— This a touristy spot, but there’s a reason for its hype. L’As du Fallafel has the freshest, most-flavorful falafels I’ve ever had (they’re so green inside!), and its reasonably-priced 7,50€ falafel sandwiches are sure to leave you stuffed. There’s always a line outside of the shop, but it goes by quickly and most people order à emporter (to-go). I’ve been eating here since my study abroad days, and I would also recommend adding their hot sauce on the falafels– you’ll thank me later!
3. Wally-Fay (Ledru-Rollin, 11ème arr.)— Paris might not seem like the place to crave Senegalese food, but once you step into Wally-Fay, you’ll wonder why you’d thought that in the first place. Senegalese food didn’t cross my mind until I came here, and man, I was in for an experience! I was introduced to the yassa au poulet, and never before had I tasted something so earthy and complex in one dish. There was warmth and a crazy spicy kick in the end that left me intrigued and wanting more. The ambiance is intimate, perfect for date nights, and I recommend going early if you don’t have reservations.
The French are known to be avid wine connoisseurs, so you’ll always find a bar at just about every corner of the city. Pub culture is alive and thriving, and things do tend to get a bit crazy on Friday and Saturday nights. For a nice glass of wine or a finely-crafted cocktail, here are my favorite bars in town:
1. La Mutinerie (Beaubourg, 3ème arr.)— Actually a few steps from Trois Fois Plus de Piment, this LGBTQ bar has been one of my favorites I’ve checked out during my visits to Paris. It’s a fun, friendly, and very-inclusive crowd with affordable drinks (3€ glasses of wine, 6€ pints of beer) with a pool table that eventually gets swapped out for the dance floor as the night goes on. La Mutinerie also has workshops and community events happening weekly, dedicated to the voices of the queer community. Overall, an energetic and safe space to be in.
2. Lavomatic (République, 10ème arr.)— One of my favorite bars I’ve scoped out in Paris. Lavomatic is a speakeasy located behind a laundromat: part of the pleasure comes from finding the door to the bar (although these days you’ll see a queue outside of the business, a tip-off to those struggling to find it). Upon swinging the door of the washing machine, you’re led upstairs to a cozy, attic-like space with IG-worthy swing seats, attractive bartenders, and strong drinks that make your money worth it. It’s all part of the experience!
3. La Mécanique Ondulatoire (Bastille, 11ème arr.)— Just a step away from the bar-crazy rue de Lappe, this rock and metal bar is a no-frills venue to grab a pint and listen to local bands play on any given night. While I’m not much of a metal fan, I’ve appreciated listening to the rock concerts played here, all the while enjoying good company and affordable drinks in the meantime. It’s this part of town (Bastille/Oberkampf districts) that have one of the highest concentrations of bars to easily hop to and from, so if you’re looking for a fun night out, this part of Paris will be ideal for you.
Thanks for reading! I hope some of these places are ones you’d be inspired to check out the next time you’re in the City of Lights. I’ll be making a secondary post of my favorite boulangeries and pâtisseries in due course, so stay tuned! À bientôt! 🙂